When kids were spirited off a children's film

It was meant to be a children’s film fest. Yes, they were there. With teachers, they had come, having taken half-a-day off from school.

But given politicians’ late coming, the elaborate ritual of speeches, cultural ceremonies and a vote of thanks, the children were spirited away when the actual event began — the inaugural screening of Netherlands film, Mike Says Goodbye, which kicked off the five-day children’s film festivities across the City.

The film, which turned out a heart-wringer, and truly a wonderful cinematic work which children would have thoroughly enjoyed and had a whale of a time, was screened sans the intended audience. The screening, which began around 1.30 pm after it was repeatedly pointed out that children were leaving, had a different audience altogether.
Apart from the organisers, there were a few senior citizens, general public, cinema buffs and a handful of policemen, who took the opportunity to have forty winks.

The auditorium was nearly full with lustily cheering, chirping children waiting with bated breath for the film to start. It, however, went almost empty as children dejectedly went back to their respective schools, thoroughly disappointed after having been brought to the venue only to watch the film. Their precious half-day was wasted in watching inconsequential formalities.

Incidentally, the film, about a leukemia-afflicted precocious child convalescing at a hospital, speaks about how he craves for his alcoholic mother to take him home for Christmas and awaits her arrival. Given that childcare authorities are hell-bent on putting him into foster homes, the anxious, highly inventive and energetic boy, who befriends a wheelchair-bound child, is up to tricks to thwart their persistent designs.

He brings sunshine and smiles among several inmates of his age at the hospital. The film, an eye-opening social and moral tale on parental care, was a true gem which the schoolchildren would have just loved and lustily cheered.

Sadly, the opening day was not theirs, and a film they are sure to sorely miss for there is no repeat screenings. Sad. If only the organisers had the children and their school times in mind and planned the function in a more timely manner. That a few of the political invitees were conspicuous by their absence is another tale. So much for children’s films in India and efforts to inculcate better cinema appreciation and aesthetic cinema habits among adolescents. 

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